Bilski v. Kappos: A Divided Supreme Court Holds That at Least Some Business Methods are Patentable (IPFrontline)
On June 28, 2010, the Supreme Court issued its long-awaited decision in Bilski v. Kappos, 561 U. S. ____ (2010), addressing the patentability of process patent claims under 35 U.S.C. § 101. The Supreme Court unanimously rejected Bilski's business method claims as unpatentably abstract because the claims attempted to patent the idea of using hedging transactions to manage risk.
Bilski's impact will be muted
Bilski's core holding will have little immediate impact on patent owners, because a five Justice majority also held that the Patent Act does not categorically forbid patents on business methods. In other words, by a 5-4 margin, the Supreme Court held that business method claims can constitute patentable subject matter under Section 101.
The Supreme Court did leave open the possibility that courts may later find that the Patent Act forbids patenting certain types of business methods. But the Court made no effort to supply any new criteria that might further limit the patentability of business methods. The Court's lack of guidance will undoubtedly slow the development of the law in this area.
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